Psalm 119:49-52, 57 – “Remember your word to your servant, in which you have made me hope. This is my comfort in my affliction, that your promise gives me life. The insolent utterly deride me, but I do not turn away from your law. When I think of your rules from of old, I take comfort, O Lord…The Lord is my portion; I promise to keep your words.”
Psalm 119 is the longest chapter in the book of Psalms and the longest chapter in the entire Bible. The entire psalm is filled with words of adoration for God’s Word. Nearly every one of the 176 verses found in Psalm 119 includes a word representing God’s written Word. The psalmist speaks of God’s words, His promise, His law, His rules, His statutes, His precepts, and His testimonies.
When you read Psalm 119:49-64, you read of the psalmist’s reliance on God’s written Word while dealing with suffering. It is that which gives him basis for hope. It is that which he meditates on when he is in need of comfort. It is the promise that is the psalmist’s portion. How does God’s Word comfort us in affliction?
If human logic, reasoning, and experience was all that we had to rely on when we were being tossed to and fro on the waves of this life, there would be no objective anchor, no absolute comfort to be able to be rooted in. God’s Word is objective, and it teaches us objective truths about the character and works of God, but also the reality of sin and how sin brings suffering to our lives. The question often asked is: If God is good and loving and all-powerful, then why does he allow bad things to happen to good people? While this question is an important question to ask, it is also one that is asked from an attitude and heart that presupposes human goodness. The problem with human goodness is that it has been marred by the Fall. Romans 3:10 clearly teaches that “there is no one righteous, no not one,” and that “no one seeks God.” That’s the bad news. So where is the “comfort in my affliction” part of the anchor that God’s Word apparently promises?
When you continue to understand God’s Word, and you continue to dig into the realities of God’s sovereignty and his intention for our lives, you find that God’s desire is not ultimately that we be physically comfortable in this life, but that we have eternal comfort and hope in Jesus Christ, who lived perfectly here on earth so that he could die in our place and rise from the grave to promise those that are his that they will have life. The comfort promised in God’s Word for the future of those who put their trust in Him far outweighs the physical pain and suffering that we will endure temporarily while we are here on earth.
Beyond this, you read other promises of God in His Word that reveal to us that God has a good and perfect purpose in our suffering. We read of examples where he took what man and Satan meant for evil, and turned it for good. But you also read examples where God brought physical suffering to accomplish his perfect purposes in his children. Paul was brought a thorn in his flesh to teach him to be dependent. Romans 8:28 is the ultimate promise for us that says that he is working all things for good, for those who are called according to His purpose. This promise is not for all people, but is instead for those who are His children, those who are “called according to his purpose.” This world is filled with evil and suffering and sin. But God’s Word is filled with promise, comfort, and eternal purpose. Praise God for His sovereignty over all things, even our suffering!